The story of a simple solution: what happens when we overthink


Hannah Jones/Winonan

When my father was younger, he was essentially the same standoffish, bookish reserved man he is today, only in miniature.

He was on the school basketball team—as a scorekeeper.

He was active in school clubs—like “Rocks for Jocks,” which was not only the only geology-based club I’ve ever heard of, but rhymed.

He also owned a winter scarf knitted for him by his mother, which was emblazoned with his initials in big, curly script on either end.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure, based on this context, that people tried to beat my father up at some point in his life.

This is just a small sample of his eccentric youth.

For a few weeks when my father was younger, he suffered from constant stomach pains and abdominal discomfort.

His father was a pharmacist and his mother a worrier, so naturally, this meant a lot of trips in and out of clinics, hypotheses and life-threatening theories.

The possibilities behind my father’s stomach problems ranged from appendicitis to flesh-eating bacteria.

Finally, my grandparents took my father into a particular doctor, and they found the cause of the problem.

The doctor started the checkup, then abruptly asked: “What kind of underwear do you wear?”

To this day, my father wears boxer briefs with an elastic waistband, and since none of his tastes have changed in at least forty years, I assume that’s what he wore back then, too.

The doctor nodded, then informed my father and his anxious parents that he did not have appendicitis, or flesh-eating bacteria, or cancer, or some malignant parasite in his stomach.

His underwear was too tight.

They balked at first, but after leaving, they switched out my father’s underwear to a more relaxed fit, and he instantly felt all of his symptoms abate.

The moral of this story is that sometimes life’s big problems have deceptively simple solutions. Also, there is such a thing as whities that are too tightie.

And we should all remember that.

Contact Hannah at [email protected]